Gabe Liosis and Corbett Gildersleve reflect on their year as SFSS president

Liosis and Gildersleve have helped establish beneficial change within SFSS moving forward

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Photos of Gabe Liosis and Corbett Gildersleve standing outside, smiling directly at the camera.
Liosis stepped down during his term, leaving Gildersleve as acting president. Image courtesy of Gudrun Wai-Gunnarsson / The Peak

By: Nercya Kalino, Staff Writer

The SFSS has elected their new executive board, revealing the new SFSS president, Helen Sofia Pahou. The Peak conducted an interview with former SFSS president Gabe Liosis and former acting president and vice-president internal & organisational development Corbett Gildersleve to discuss the end of their terms.

Liosis resigned during his presidency due to mental health challenges. “I don’t regret for one second stepping down,” he explained. “After I stepped down I had an opportunity to rest and to engage in self care, and put up personal boundaries,” said Liosis. Gildersleve fulfilled the role of acting president until the end of the term.

During their time on the SFSS executive team, they took action to change the form of advocacy and decision making on behalf of the student body. Before the change made in May 2021, the primary governing body was the Board of Directors consisting of 16 people and Council operated separately from the Board. 

Liosis shared with The Peak it was important to shift the dynamic of decision-making between Council and the executive board members. He noted this was done in order to create more participation in the SFSS’s decision-making.

He explained that by changing the systems of governance, power shifted from 16 people in the Board of Directors to the Council consisting of 60 people representing all programs at SFU. 

The by-law changes were made so “Council, in a legal sense, was our Board of Directors and is now responsible for making decisions on behalf of the SFSS’s 26,000 members,” said Liosis. 

“When it came to the governance changes over the year I was president, it gave people the opportunity to be involved with their student society,” Liosis explained. “Because not only was there increased representation on the Board of Directors — which is now Council — but each of those Councils represents a student union.”

When asked about the important initiatives that inspired Liosis to run for presidency, he elaborated on the task of officially opening the Student Union Building (SUB). Liosis explained the logistics of providing access to the Student Union Building for the student body was challenging due to new COVID-19 variants delta and omicron. 

“It completely shifted our advocacy capacity because once again we were trying to call on SFU to implement a bunch of safety measures that were not coming from the province, such as vaccine mandates for all community members, students, faculty, and staff. We were calling for access to high quality masks, social distancing in lecture halls, hybrid learning,” Liosis explained the executives had to change their plans in order to maintain safety of the working members in the SUB. 

Photos of Gabe Liosis and Corbett Gildersleve standing outside, smiling directly at the camera.
Image courtesy of Jade Andersen

Gildersleve’s first experience with the SFSS was as vice-president of finance. His initial drive to participate in the SFSS came from believing the members of the SFSS could benefit from increased administration and financial training to better apply themselves to the SFSS. 

Gildersleve worked “with SFU to finally get a system in place for SFSS executives to have the option of declaring their time as a co-op for up to three terms.” He explained this meant “they would no longer have to take full-time classes [which] would definitely help international students.

“It would help students that were in honours programs or special scenarios like scholarships. They would go on co-op and not have to try to be a full time executive and full-time student,” said Gildersleve. 

Similarly, Gildersleve said he realized whilst serving as vice-president of finance that the pay for these members was under the minimum wage — the amount of compensation had not increased for 13 years. He knew changing the stipend would likely motivate students to take the chance of becoming a member of SFSS Board and inspired them to be responsible in how they tackled issues pertaining to the student body in SFU. 

Gildersleve felt there is still much more work ahead, especially now that the system within SFSS has shifted. He noted he would be returning after his break to continue mentoring members of the SFSS in order to progress the foundational work of the restructured by-laws.

He mentioned one of the achievements was the new collective agreement with the CUPE union which increased student employees’ wage to a living wage. However, it is still important for these new policies to be set for the future members. “There are still a lot of little things that I think need fundamental improvement,” Gildersleve said.